A Tattered Suit?

Yesterday we wrote about SuitSat, the old Russian space suit stuffed with radio and electronics gear that was slated to be kicked out of the International Space Station. For a few days, SuitSat would serve as a satellite for amateur radio enthusiasts, before its batteries ran out and the pull of gravity brought it back into the mesophere, for prompt incineration as it fell back to earth.

The “launch” of SuitSat yesterday made big news; MSNBC has a video of astronauts giving the suit the boot here.

But is that suit still in fashion? Australian ABC reports that SuitSat has gone off air:

Plans to use an old Russian spacesuit launched from the International Space Station as a make-shift radio satellite have been short-lived.

American astronaut William MacArthur and Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev released the make-shift satellite, dubbed SuitSat, at the start of a six-hour spacewalk.

But before they were back inside, SuitSat’s mission was over.

NASA’s Mission Control Centre in Houston, Texas, says the transmitter ceased operating very quickly after its deployment.

An international team of ham radio enthusiasts who organised the educational project and built the hardware had expected SuitSat to last at least a few days.

The SuitSat website currently has a more optimistic– if guarded– report:

Current thinking is SuitSat is transmitting, but far weaker than expected. Several reliable reports of short snatches of the voice and SSTV signals have been reported. It is recommended that you continue to listen during passes over your area. Please report any positive contact only.

To find a map of SuitSat’s orbit, click here.